At Shahi, we believe in the power and potential of the 100,000 people who make up our workforce. And we wanted the world to get to know them better. In 2017 we commissioned Behind the Seams, a project to tell their unique stories.

Garment workers together form a truly diverse and talented industry. The majority of our employees are female; in fact we are the largest private employer of women in India. In a country where female participation in the workforce has dropped from 35% to 27% since 1990, we’re especially proud of our strong female talent base who have, in some instances, overcome huge challenges to take up formal employment with us and become economically independent.

Shanthi

Tailor, Unit 12

The mother who wouldn’t give up

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Woman

Her Story

When Shanthi first moved to Bangalore, her first priority was finding work but no company was willing to offer her a job. At first glance you wouldn’t think Shanthi was a mother, she looks far younger than she actually is. Shanthi's job search went on for a whole year before she finally stepped into the doors of Shahi, where she was eventually employed as a tailor. One of Shanthi's firm requirements when she applied for work was to find a company that could also help take care of her son, Eranna, who suffers from Down Syndrome. Shahi opened their door and welcomed both Shanthi and her son, who was cared for in the company’s creche.

Eranna's first couple of months in the day-care facility were extremely difficult for him; it was an entirely new environment and one where he was expected to get along with a large group of children. Eranna often fought with the other children and was prone to bouts of anger which required Shanthi to be called to pacify him. "It was not easy when I first came here, he was always getting into trouble." It was around this time that Eranna came under the care of Jeevamani, who would soon become his favourite teacher. Jeevamani channeled Eranna's energies towards creative activities like art and singing, gradually helping him to get accustomed to group activities. Today, Shanthi is no longer called to the creche to take care of her son, which has helped her focus better on her work. "He gets along with everyone now, this is exactly what I wanted when I joined Shahi."

Shanthi's reasons for moving to Bangalore were far from ordinary. In 2004, an earthquake in the Indian ocean, the third most powerful ever recorded, resulted in a tsunami that devastated states along the coast including Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. The lives of the those living in the most heavily affected areas were altered forever and the return to normalcy was a long one, with some places still reeling under its effects even today. Shanthi hailed from an agricultural background in one of Andhra Pradesh’s worst affected districts along the coast. Her general cheerfulness does not give you the slightest hint of the tragedies that she has witnessed. Her family lost their home, their land and as a consequence, any form of livelihood. The tsunami uprooted them from their daily existence and Shanthi had to pick up the pieces of her life again, bit by bit.

I am happy with the work I do
and with the people I work with.
I feel proud of what I have become.
Woman

Many people in Shanthi’s position would have been crushed by the odds of forging a new path. And that’s why her story is a testament to living life by the moment, without letting fear and uncertainty determine who you are and what your future might be.

“Working here has given me the support I needed and completely changed my life around. These days I don’t worry about anything, I am happy with the work I do and with the people I work with. I feel proud of what I have become.”